I’m Writing for Dream Theater

astonishing-book-cover-mockup-fThe first thing you need to know is that Dream Theater is my favorite band. Ever.

It sounds a bit fanboy to say it like that, but it’s no less true. Now, having said that, it’s also true that my appreciation for metal, rock, jazz, Sinatra, and on and on, are all quite strong. Music has been central for me all my life. So much so that I spent several years in vocal training with Maestro David Kyle, who trained Geoff Tate of Queensryche, Layne Staley of Alice in Chains, Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart . . . you get the idea. And it led me to fronting a number of metal bands on small tours and at festivals in Europe.

All good stuff.

But music hasn’t become my bread and butter. That’s a familiar story for many.

Which brings me to fiction. Alongside my passion for music is my passion for storytelling. It’s another thing that’s been with me since the beginning. On that front, I’ve had a bit more success. I’ve had dozens of short stories published in professional anthologies. And I have a current epic fantasy series with Tor Books out of New York.

That series is entitled: The Vault of Heaven. I’m writing book three right now, but I recommend new readers start with book two, Trial of Intentions–it’s written as an entry point to the series and it’s my best book.

Unsurprising to anyone who knows me, my series features music prominently. In fact, fantasy writers like Brandon Sanderson and Robin Hobb have been quoted as saying they’ve never seen magic done the way I’m doing it–with music.

All of which brings me to my point. After some number of years, my two great passions have come together in a way I couldn’t have anticipated and about which I couldn’t be more happy.

I’m writing the novel to Dream Theater’s The Astonishing.

A little over a year ago, Dream Theater announced that they’d be doing a big double-CD concept album. Something science-fiction-y. After calming down, since I love DT, concept albums, and science fiction, I shot John Petrucci (Dream Theater guitarist) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater keyboardist) an email. Essentially, I pitched them on writing the novel of their concept album.

I was able to shoot these cats an email because I’ve had the good fortune of meeting the band a few times over the years. For a time I did the music marketing at Microsoft/Xbox. And along the way, I developed enough of a rapport with the guys that I could dash off an email when the time was right. I have some other stories about exchanges with James Labrie and Jordan and John. I’ve had the chance to share meals with them. But I’ll save those for another time.

Things proceeded at a slow burn for a few months. There was interest, but much to do. I put together a formal proposal and sent that over. John and I wound up on the phone for a couple of extended conversations. Ultimately, he liked the things I was saying, and invited me to write a sample chapter. An audition of sorts. John is really nice, but he’s sharp and driven. He had lots of options on who would write the book. And I personally know other writers who had made a similar pitch. Not to mention writers John already knew and liked.

So, I jumped at the chance to write a sample chapter.

For those of you who know the core story of The Astonishing, he asked me to write about the events in the song “The Savior in the Square.” I asked him if he wanted me to be slavish to his summary and lyrics. He said no, giving me license to invent things of my own.

So, I did.

New characters, new motives, new technology. All in the over-arching plot, but also introducing new subplots and scenes.

John loved it. When we spoke next, he shared all the things he liked about how I built upon his vision. He was sold.

Then, we set on the arduous journey toward a publisher and contract. We vetted several offers. And once we landed on doing it with the small press I’m a part of, there was the contract, which wasn’t easy. Mostly because there are publishing rights we had to think through.

But neither of us gave up. Because we believed in this book.

And then, just last week, the final executed contract was done, and we could turn toward telling everyone who’d listen that there’s going to be a novel of The Astonishing.

Which is precisely what this blog post is all about.

But let me back up a bit.

One of the hugely awesome elements of this process came after I sent John the sample chapter. He and I then spent seven or eight very long phone conversations crawling through his own written summary of The Astonishing.

He was on the road at the time, so these calls often started very late at night. Even so, they went for hours. John spent time providing context and color to each part of the original story. I asked questions. And then I’d come up with new ideas and rationale for things and run them by him on the spot. More than once we each got those goosebumps at the ways the story was evolving as I pitched him ideas for how the story would grow.

There are dream projects, right? I know writers who would sell their eye-teeth do a Star Wars book. Other writers live to do something with D.C. Comics or Marvel. And I wouldn’t hate doing a book for any of those IPs. But for me, I couldn’t have scripted a better match. I mean, anything music-related would have been awesome. Make it metal, and the awesomeness would triple. But make it Dream Theater, and it’s ALL the awesome!

So, now I’m writing the book. I’m working with John on all the cool extras that you get with the Limited Edition. This is going to be a beautiful book. And those extras I mention are exclusives. If your a Dream Theater fan, you’re not going to want to miss this one. And there aren’t many, so I’d encourage you to pre-order if you’re interested.

And if you need something to read in the meantime, and you like music, remember my own series has a ton of music in it, including a music magic system–either Trial of Intentions or The Sound of Broken Absolutes would be the place to start. In fact, in some ways, the music in my fiction is part of what helped John decide to give me the gig.

Then, if you’re interested, follow me on Facebook and Twitter.

Twitter: @peterorullian and Facebook: www.facebook.com/peterorullian

I’ll be providing updates as I write the book. You can follow along as the project progresses and get a peek behind the curtain.

Stay metal!

Your Rock Lord,

Peter Orullian


Well, folks, the day has finally arrived. TRIAL OF INTENTIONS is out! And as I’ve said before, if you haven’t read anything in my series, you can dive in with this one. I get you caught up fast.

As for other pertinent stuffs. Here are a few things that have been said about the book:

Robin Hobb:
“Trial of Intentions is a story of music and magic, of daring and sacrifice, in an intricate and believable world, where characters face difficult and heartbreaking choices. Orullian is doing things I haven’t seen in other books, including an original system of magic. This tale will resonate with readers long after the cover is closed.”

Tracy Hickman:
“Peter Orullian is a master of dark chocolate fantasy; bitter, harsh and sweet at once. Trail of Intentions grabs us firmly by the breastplate and challenges us to face a world of moral contradictions, stunning characters and harsh choices. An unflinching fantasy.”

L.E. Modesitt Jr.:
“Peter Orullian’s Trial of Intentions is a book enormous in scope and in intricacy, with a welter of political, cultural, and magical intrigues, behind which lies the role of song in preserving a myriad of cultures, all of which disagree with each other to some extent, even as it becomes apparent to the reader that, without some degree of cooperation, all will suffer, if not perish. A challenging story about challenged cultures, and one well-told.”

Also, the early reviews say some sweet things:

Elitist Book Reviews
“Orullian has found an untapped reservoir of talent in TRIAL OF INTENTIONS. Where THE UNREMEMBERED shines, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS transcends. Where THE UNREMEMBERED lagged or suffered, TRIAL OF INTENTIONS has displayed deftness that is far beyond its status as the second book in a series. Orullian is not just an author, but an artist. One of the rare writers, like Hemingway, Steinbeck, Lewis, and others, whose use of words, imagery, and literary techniques lifts him above his compatriots and peers into a category inhabited by the truly great.”

Book Frivolity
“This is one of the most wonderful, beautiful, yet emotionally brutal fantasy books I’ve read in a long time. It is, in my eyes, pretty bloody gorgeous on multiple levels . . . I loved it, I think any anybody that loves to explore the nitty gritty workings within a fantasy world will love it and anybody looking for the fantasy genre to be flipped on it’s back karate style will love it.”

Dragon Mount
“This was a great read, keeping in line with the epicness of the genre, and the complications expected from realistic characters. This series grows more in depth in each book . . . Orullian’s world is absorbing and I can’t wait to return to it again.”

Deseret News
“This is an immediately engaging series with interesting characters and story. There’s great detail in this world, which comes with unique rules of magic and science, and the characters are well developed . . . This book would appeal to fans of Brandon Sanderson, Robert Jordan, J.R.R. Tolkien and Patrick Rothfuss.”

Also, I’ll be on book tour, starting tonight:

Tuesday, May 26
U Books, 7:00pm

301 S Campus Ctr, Seattle, WA 98195
(206) 543-6582

Thursday, May 28
Mysterious Galaxy, 7:30pm

5943 Balboa Ave #100, San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 268 4747

Saturday, May 30
Borderlands, 3pm

866 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 824-8203

Sunday, May 31
Copperfield’s Petaluma, 1pm

140 Kentucky Street, Petaluma, CA 94952
(707) 762 0563

Monday, June 1
Powell’s Cedar Hills Crossing, 7PM

3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd, Beaverton, OR 97005
(503) 228-4651

Tuesday, June 2
Weller Book Works, 6pm

607 Trolley Square, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
(801) 328-2586

Wednesday, June 3, 2015
Barnes & Noble, Orem, 7PM

330 East 1300 South, Orem, UT 84057
(801) 229-1611

The book is bookstores, of course. But if you’d prefer to order it online, you can do so:


And elsewhere . . . plus, if you’d like a signed copy, but can’t get to a signing, you can order one here:

Grim Oak

And so’s you know, I’m using Nightwish’s “Storytime” as my tour theme. Consider these lyrics from the tune as my matra:

I am the voice of never, never land,
The innocence of dreams from every man,
I am the empty grave of Peter Pan,
A soaring kite against the blue, blue sky,
Every chimney, every moonlit sight
I am the story that will read you real,
Every memory that you hold dear

Now listen to the jam:

I think that’s it for now. I’ll update with more later!

Your Rock Lord,


All the things

Free short stories. Free book giveaways. Interviews. New books coming out. My book tour. And a cover reveal! You really should click the link and check it out.

There’s lots of stuffs happening in my world lately. As much for myself as anyone else, here’s an attempt to capture it in one place.

I had a novelette publish on Tor.com in January. It’s entitled, “A Beautiful Accident.” Vendanj is the POV character. Maybe my favorite review of this story was: “Holy fuck was that beautiful!” It’s set in the Mal region of my world, where ritualized torture is a way of creating long-suffering and humility and strength. A rare friendship is born as Vendanj undergoes the pain of cruciations. It’s free reading here.

I then had a short story, entitled “The Hell of It,” publish on Tor.com in February. The POV character is Roth Staned’s father, who’s a poor wharf worker. In many ways, this is an origin story for Roth, which is important since book two of The Vault of Heaven takes Roth as a major POV character. There’s also a wicked cool card game in this one, which my readers will remember from the riverboat in The Unremembered. Fair warning: This one’s heartbreaking. It’s free reading here

I have a story set in the universe of The Vault of Heaven in the Blackguards anthology, which is releasing as we speak. This story features Jastail. It’s also a bit of an origin story. It’s not what you think, though. It’s not really about his entrance into human trafficking. Not directly, anyway. It was actually a bit difficult to write. Some deep sadness in this one. It’s entitled, “A Length of Cherrywood.” More info here

I also have a story set in the universe of The Vault of Heaven in the forthcoming anthology Unbound. This one is entitled “A Slow Kill,” and features a member of the Dannire, a kind of holy assassin society in my universe. I’m proud of this one, because the assassin-work here is not your typical sneaky-poisony stuff. The Dannire aren’t your run-o-the-mill assassins. Oh, sure, they can off you with a knife in a stealthy throat-cutty way. But that’s not how it usually goes. I think you’re going to like this one. More info on it here.

I had a short story collection release in February. It gathers some of my previously published fiction, as well as some never before published stories—all set in the universe of The Vault of Heaven—into a single volume entitled: The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One. There’s even a cut chapter from Trial of Intentions, and the first few chapters of the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered. Get all the info here.

And then there’s this whole Author’s Edition of The Unremembered thingy. If you haven’t heard about it already, I wrote a blog post on it. This is the definitive blog post on the Author’s Edition, including the answer to the burning question: Why do an Author’s Edition in the first place? Have a good read on all that over here.

The Author’s Edition of The Unremembered released this last Tuesday. So, if you’re inclined to own a copy, you can get it at your local bookstore. Of course, it’s likewise available online. I was proud of the original, but this edition is much closer to what I’d intended the first time out–you’ll understand if you go read my blog.

Around all this activity–which is essentially a relaunch of my Vault of Heaven series–there are some free giveaways going on now:

  • Free giveaway of the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered. Enter here.
  • Free giveaway of an ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of Trial of Intentions (Book two of The Vault of Heaven). Enter here.
  • Free giveaway of finished copies of Trial of Intentions. Enter here.

And then this week, I’ve had some interviews and articles go up. It’s been tough keeping up with the job, and the writing, and the music, and the family (not necessarily in that order), and carving out time to do these write ups. But I’m glad I did. Here are a few:


Probably one of the better interviews I did this week. With some of the best questions. This interview made me think a time or two. Damn it. I mean, “Why do you write epic fantasy?” and “Let’s talk about tropes.” Gets thick, yo. Read it here.


And here’s an article I wrote for Tor on what to expect in Trial of Intentions. I compare readers to crabs, who I’m putting in a metaphorical pot of tepid water. Then turning up the heat. I think the closing line goes something like, “Cook you good!” Check it out.


I did an interview on Suvudu, which includes what’s different about the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered. Shawn does a great job with his questions. He asks some good ones, including, “What are you most proud of in Trial of Intentions?” Have a read.


I also have an article on SFSignal in which I share the books that influenced the Author’s Edition. I’m particularly proud of this one. My answers will probably surprise you. I mean, I start with something by Dickens. So there you go. Read it.


Then there’s my interview with Layers of Thought, in which I talk some about music and writing, and other thingys. Good question about “What I’m trying to show readers?” and “What’s your favorite part of the process?” Here ya go.


And there’s an article where (so far) I spend the most time on the topic of music as magic. I remember writing this one. I did it fast–stream-of-consciousness style. It’s not long, but I think there’s some passion in there. Read it over here.


Finally, I also have an article up on Civilian Reader. This one is all about world building. But that’s a ginormous topic. So, I focus it on magic. In particular, I talk about the approach I’m taking in The Vault of Heaven–my idea of what I call “governing dynamics”: a set of unifying principles for multiple magic systems in a world. I think you’ll dig.


And something I super excited about, which is A REVIEW OF TRIAL OF INTENTIONS!!!!!! This is the first sign that the hard work may be paying off. That the travails with editors and delays and being bludgeoned by work were all worth it! So metal! Check it out!

As for what’s next? Well, in a few weeks I have a roughly 200 page book releasing entitled, The Sound of Broken Absolutes. Wanna see the cover:

This is the novella I had published in Unfettered. This book will have Broken Absolutes, but also preview chapters from both the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered and Trial of Intentions. Broken Absolutes goes into the music magic system quite a bit. Watch for more information in the days ahead.

And, of course, Trial of Intentions publishes on May 26th.

I’ll be doing a short book tour for that:


I’m also looking at doing some conventions this year. Possibles: Miscon, San Diego Comicon, Gencon, New York Comicon . . .

Anyway, there you go.

Your Rock Lord,


New Book Out Today (Sort of)

It’s a bit of deja vu, I guess. Because today the Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered releases. “What does that mean?” you ask? Well, let me tell you.

It’s a bit of deja vu, I guess. Because today the Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered hits bookstore shelves. “What does that mean?” you ask? Well, let me tell you.

Almost four years ago the original version of The Unremembered was published. I was ecstatic. It was the culmination of a lot of hard work, and, of course, a bit of luck. But all things in life have a number of “sides” to them, don’t they?

Without going into detail, let me just say that not all author/editor matches are made in heaven. As a result, not all authors and their editors share the same vision for a book. Perhaps this is no one’s fault. But it does mean that things change. And these years later, I have a new editor. These years later, there’s a new version of The Unremembered.

So, what’s different, you may then ask. Quiet a lot, actually.

Let’s start with the length of the book. Typically, Author’s Editions are longer. Given the chance to go back to a book, most writers add the stuff they cut the first time around. Stephen King’s Uncut version of The Stand comes to mind. That volume was roughly 300 pages longer. But with the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, I cut. A lot. I suppose there’s a risk that I ditched things some of my readers liked. It might also be true that gone are things other readers didn’t care for. Regardless, I “killed my darlings,” as they say. I kept the stuff the story needed. The rest–beloved or reviled–is gone. The book is significantly trimmer, faster paced, more focused.

Next, I added things. I believe it was about 15K words, which is still a fraction of what I cut. But given the opportunity to more closely tie books one and two . . . well, who wouldn’t take the chance to do so. There are some new bits I think readers are really going to love, as well as some entirely new chapters, including a music magic scene that I WOULD LOVE to see in a movie!

As I worked through the text, I also brushed up the dialogue, cut exposition where I felt it needed it, warmed up characters as appropriate, removed things cryptic (if being cryptic was appropos of nothing), sharpened motivation, made more clear the “why’s” for doing things, etc., etc. You get the idea.

There are some more cosmetic changes, too. There’s a glossary, for folks who dig such things. I’ve added an exclusive short story, set in the universe of The Vault of Heaven. This story takes as a viewpoint character a creature from inside the Bourne–a creature who becomes a main character in book two, Trial of Intentions. In fact, Tor also put the first few chapters of Trial of Intentions in the back of this Author’s Edition of The Unremembered. So, that’s cool. You get a little taste of what book two is like. Plus, I went back and added epigraphs to every chapter in this edition of The Unremembered. I kinda dig epigraphs. Nice little world building tools.

Oh, and to distinguish all these stuffs, Tor has put a little yellow star on the front of the cover, which says: Author’s Definitive Edition. So, if you’re interested in picking up a copy, be sure to look for the gold star.

Now, I want to be clear about something. If you read the original version, you don’t need to read the Author’s Edition to move on to book two, Trial of Intentions. You’ll be just fine. In fact, because it’s been four years, I wrote Trial of Intentions as an entry point to the series. So, if you haven’t read The Unremembered, or just want to dive in with book two, that’ll work. I get you up to speed. That said, if you decide to start at the beginning, or if you want to re-read book one in preparation for book two, I recommend you read the Author’s Edition. It’s a stronger book. That simple. Plus, there’s all the things I added to knit the books more closely together. Plus, goodies.

There’ve been a few reviews, so far, too. (Thank you to the folks who emailed these to me.) About the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered, here’s what a few have said:

The original version of the book had quotes and other nice things said about it by the Library Journal (starred review), Terry Brooks, Kevin J. Anderson, Piers Anthony, Ed Greenwood, Anne Perry, and Brandon Sanderson. Gee, wonder what they’d think of the Author’s Edition. Heh.

Speaking of the Author’s Edition, a few nice quotes from the following folks:

  • “Intricately crafted with its own distinct melody, The Unremembered is a groundbreaking work of epic fantasy.” –Bookwormblues.net
  • “Sometimes you just need a big, fat fantasy, and Peter Orullian’s remastered edition of The Unremembered delivers everything you’re looking for: a fascinating world, tense action, charismatic characters, and a magic system the like of which you’ve never imagined.”—Aidan Moher, A Dribble of Ink, Hugo Award Winner
  • The Unremembered captures the unique essence and mystery of music, and weaves it into every line of a compelling and exciting world, while telling a character-driven story that resonates through the ages … a work of art on par with the masters of the genre, Jordan, Rothfuss, Tolkien, and more.” –Elitistbookreviews.com, nominated for 2013 & 2014 Hugo Award for best review site
  • “Engaging characters, complex magic, and expertly written—a whole new kind of epic fantasy!” –Suvudu.com

The Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered is in bookstores today. If you have the hankerin’, run down to your local B&N, or whatever, and pick up a copy. Or, if you like ordering online, you can get it at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com (these are direct links to the book on those websites), and other places online.

Remember, it’s got to have the gold star on the front. It’ll probably say Author’s Edition, or somesuch, too. It’s being released as a trade paperback, so I’m guessing it’ll run like $13–be sure it’s roughly that price, or you’re buying the old version of the book. There are ebooks versions, too, of course, though I hear Amazon has had some trouble getting their Kindle version of the Author’s Edition up–so you may have to wait a few days on that. And Tor is putting out the audiobook of The Author’s Edition on April 14, 2015–pretty sure that’s on Audible.

Effectively, Tor is relaunching my series, The Vault of Heaven. That starts today with the Author’s Edition of The Unremembered. And it continues next month, on May 26th, with Trial of Intentions. So, you know, you won’t have to wait too long between books.

Now, is this Author’s Edition of The Unremembered going to be ginormous and sell 100 million copies. One can only hope. What is true is that this is much closer to what I’d wanted to do the first time out. I’m grateful to Tor, and to my new editor, for giving me the chance to do it.

I hope you dig.

Your Rock Lord,


So, I have a New Book Out Today . . .

I love short stories. Novelettes. Novellas. And so it is that I give you a collection of short fiction set in the universe of my fantasy series: The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One.

I love short stories. Novelettes. Novellas. The first modern popular fiction I fell in love with was a copy of Stephen King’s Night Shift.

There’s a beauty in short fiction you don’t get in novels. That’s an odd thing for me to say, given that my fantasy series is of the doorstop variety.

I suppose, then, it won’t surprise folks to learn that I’ve written a number of short stories set in the world of my series, The Vault of Heaven. More than ten of them, in fact.

Many of these tales have yet to be released. A few belong to forthcoming anthologies–I’ll be sure to let folks know when they hit shelves. A few more will come out on Tor.com. And more still, I’ll release myself. Just because.

These shorter tales set in the Vault of Heaven universe began as a way of telling stories I needed to tell. Stories that burned in my brain, needing release. And there just wasn’t room for them in the doorstoppers–strange as that sounds.

Part of it, too, was my fledgling efforts at transmedia–telling a larger story across multiple artistic mediums. These various narratives aren’t dependent on one another. You needn’t read the books to understand the short stories. Or vice versa. Still, if you read both, you’ll experience those deeper resonances that often make immersion in a second world so much fun. Leastways, that’s how it happens for me. These other worlds wind up being more vibrant. More real. More peopled, if that makes any sense.

Anyway, I figured one day I’d gather up some of these stories. Make it easier for my readers to get them in a bunch. There’ll be more of these books in the future, too. But this is the first. Thus, may I introduce: The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One.

Click to embiggen

If you follow my series, inside you’ll find a few stories you might have read. But in addition to these, I’ve added some new stories, including a cut chapter from the forthcoming Trial of Intentionsthe second book in my fantasy series. I’ve had a number of readers ask about all the stuff I cut from book two, since its initial draft was 500,000 words. So, in this story volume, I’ve included a scene I love a lot, but just didn’t need in the novel. It’s a scene with Roth Staned–who becomes an important character in book two–and General Van Steward. It gets a bit tense. It’s lovely.

There’s also a new story from the point of view of a character in Trial of Intentions. An important character. It’s an origin story of sorts. There’s some humor in this one, entitled “With What’s Familiar.” Hope you dig.

Beyond all this there’s a surprise at the end of this story volume. A preview thing. Oh, and I wrote introductions to all the stories. You know, context? I always love it, personally, when I’m reading a collection or anthology, and the author gives me some insight to the story. So, there you go.

With the Author’s Definitive Edition of The Unremembered set to release April 7, 2015 (I’ll blog about that another time, but look for the yellow star on the front cover–and note that the “Look Inside” feature isn’t yet showing the updated book), and Trial of Intentions set to release May 26, 2015, I figured it might be cool to prime the pump, as it were. You do want to be primed, don’t you? Sure you do.

I have a few more primings coming, too. But I’ll save those goodies for later.

For now, I hope you dig The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One. Here’s some ways you can get it:

Also, I’ll be at LTUE this week, where the awesome Howard Tayler will have copies of The Vault of Heaven, Story Volume One at his table. If you gets one, I be signing it fer ya.

Your Rock Lord